“Off-Facebook Activity” tool - Winning the data protection battle or not?

“Off-Facebook Activity” tool - Winning the data protection battle or not?

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Coincidently or not, on the 28th of January - “Data Privacy Day”, Founder and CEO of Facebook Mark Zuckerberg announced that as of that day their “Off-Facebook Activity tool is available to people on Facebook around the world.”

There’s probably no person on the planet who thinks any type of interaction with “the internet” doesn’t necessarily mean putting yourself at risk of having some of your private info misused. But, Mark’s confession that “other businesses send us information about your activity on their sites and we use that information to show you ads that are relevant to you“ came as a shock to many.

Ever wondered how is it possible that whatever you were doing online, whether it was furniture shopping, finding best deals for car tires, setting up your dentist appointment... somehow Facebook’s News feed always showed some relevant ad. Well, now you know why!

As a response to major privacy concerns, Facebook launched a new setting tool that shows users where else they’re being tracked. Of course, to be honest, this is not some ultimate win in an endless effort to have your private data fully protected. Rather it should be viewed as a drop of privacy in a sea of privacy violations. However, the gesture should still be celebrated by common Facebook users.

Facebook and privacy – the joke’s on you

Facebook will probably never renounce its grasp over your private data, but now, there is a way to see who's feeding them data, even when you're not using Facebook. It's called Off-Facebook Activity. Let’s take a look at how it works and what you can and can’t do with it.

Facebook Security contentsWith the new privacy feature, you can clear the history of apps and websites that have shared your data. You can also turn off future off-Facebook activity, which tells Facebook to disconnect any information that the company has shared from your account. Or, you can selectively choose which companies you want to stop sharing your activity and it'll stop showing you those targeted ads.

According to the available manual, these are the steps you need to take in order to get to new tool settings:
  • Go to your Facebook Settings.
  • Select the "Off-Facebook Activity" option.
  • To manage your current data sharing, click "Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity."
  • You will see a list of apps and websites that have shared your data with Facebook. Using this list, select whichever websites you do and do not want to share your data with Facebook.
  • You can select the "Clear History" option if you want to disconnect all your data-sharing history from your personal account.
  • If you want to also disconnect future data collection from your account, go back to the first "Manage Your Off-Facebook Activity" page.
  • Select "More Options." From there, select "Manage Future Activity."
  • Opt into turning off your future activity sharing.

By following these steps, you will prevent Facebook from linking your website histories to tailor specific ads to you, since they will be de-linked from your personal account. On the other hand, it’s clear that Facebook refuses to stop collecting this type of data. All they’ve agreed to do is anonymize it. But surely it doesn’t mean that this isn’t a valuable new feature.

So, a big win in the Data protection battle or not? We’ll let you decide!